My friend California Governor Gavin Newsom is just plain blowing it. As I have explained to Gov Newsom and anyone who would not listen, let alone pay attention, California should activate tax increment financing powers per city and county, and allow them to steer property tax revenue to compensate businesses for closing, and workers for staying at home. How much to give should be determined by each city and county, and on a case-by-case basis.
What Gavin did, instead, was close businesses and then watch as the rule of closure was applied unevenly and unfairly. He allowed the chaos to fester as month after month the situation got worse. The longer businesses closed, the more likely they were to go out of business entirely. Gavin could have formed a tax increment financing -based plan for business compensation, purchased air cleaners for indoor eateries, and went on a wellness campaign to tell us what to eat and do to keep our immune system up. Instead of splitting the difference policy-wise, Gavin plans to go from one extreme, state-wide closure, to an other one, state-wide opening.
Where are we now? Well, as of January 24, California has 3,109,151 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 36,790 deaths. The number of COVID-related deaths increased by 1.2 percent from the prior day total of 36,361. And that’s a direct quote from Tracking COVID-19 in California: Update for January 24, 2021. Given that the state population is just north of 39 million, we have a hair under 8 percent of the people of California with the virus, or one out of every ten people.
And now Governor Newsom, bowing to pressure from right-wing groups, wants to open up California. Why? The speculation leans toward the idea that he’s concerned for his own political future. For some reason, Gavin is afraid to do the big political action, and spend money. The State of California has $18 billion in reserves. The Governor can order the use of $4 billion given to each of the 1,457,000 food service workers in the State, or $2,745 per person. That would leave $14 billion in the reserve, yet winds up helping a number of people representing California’s hardest-hit segment of the population. If he then allows outdoor restaurant activity to resume, and then expand that program such that local civic parks (which provide green trees to clean the air) are to be converted to outdoor eating spaces, eateries could establish grab and go service: grab a meal, and eat in the park.
This is a program that can be done right now – no waiting. Indeed, Governor Newsom needs to calculate the total cost of aide, and then figure out what can be done now, and where we need help from the Federal Government. My guess is the overall price tag will be something like $40 billion, but at least we would have some idea of what it costs.
So, that’s what Gavin should do, now: $4 billion given to each of the 1,457,000 food service workers in the State, or $2,745 per person, and allow outdoor restaurant activity to resume, and then expand that program such that local civic parks (which provide green trees to clean the air) are to be converted to outdoor eating spaces, eateries could establish grab and go service: grab a meal, and eat in the park. On top of that, Gavin should allow indoor restaurant eating to resume only where air cleaners are in place, and the state would pay 75 percent of the cost to buy them.
In other words, Gavin must take meaningful action. A $500 million business grant program is far too small for the problems faced – a $3 billion grant program is better considering the size of the economic problem because of The Pandemic and the policies that have hurt businesses. And California’s homeless population should receive direct grants, too. That’s 151,000, but let’s say it’s 200,000 – $1,000 per person A $200 million targeted grant and home assistance program would go a long way toward helping them. In other words, we have to help the weakest first, and that will lift the socio-economy.
We also need to go direct-to-consumer, and avoid using banks for grant programs. As one person complained about Gavin’s $500 million business grant program, “If you actually read and paid attention you’d realize that the process to apply for this grant was a disaster. Worse than even the first round of PPP. So many, including myself dealt with a errror laden, glitchy site that forced several redos. No communication from lender.”
Just get the money to those in need, not to the banks. No offense to the banks, but the layer of bureaucracy they offer needs to be lessened.